Public Coalition for the EU-Belarus Visa-Free Movement Launched

 белорусы в ЕС - демократия в Беларуси Public coalition for the EU-Belarus visa-free movement launched

A number of well-known Belarusian NGOs and think tanks have joined forces within a public VISA-FREE coalition. Assisted by partners from EU member states, Belarusians are going to advocate the idea of visa-free travel between Belarus and other European countries.

„We will make every effort to assist civic initiatives of Belarus in this ambitious undertaking. Actually, initiating a dialogue with the European colleagues on facilitating people-to-people contacts should be a task for the government of Belarus; however, as the authorities are hesitant to remove the artificial barriers, it is up for the civil society to make its voice heard,“ – says Tomas Tomilinas of „Belarus Watch“ NGO, the Lithuanian partner of the coalition.

The coalition will be engaged in the VISA-FREE public campaign to promote arguments for lifting the visa regime, a tool which proved bad for addressing issues of illegal migration and organized crime, however, very efficient in preventing economic, cultural, community etc. ties.

„Being a survival of the Cold War, the visa regime is a major obstacle for the pro-European aspirations of the Belarusian public. The highly bureaucratic visa-application procedure is making the situation even worse”, - says Dzianis Melyantsou, a political analyst of the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies.

Belarus is a participant of the EU Eastern Partnership program. The visa-free movement is stipulated as a potential goal in the program founding documents.

Regardless of political contradictions between Belarus and the EU as well as sanctions introduced by Brussels against the Belarusian leadership, the negotiations on visa regime have not been frozen. Surveys suggest opportunities of free travel to the EU member states are the highest among the expectations of the Belarusian people in relations with the EU. Facilitation of short-term trips rather than long-term brain drain or labour migration is a priority for the upcoming campaign. 

More information:
Vadim Vileita +37061482880
Tomas Tomilinas +37068627469
Dzianis Melyantsou +375296268113

Coalition partners in Belarus:
Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs
Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS)
EuroBelarus consortium
Legal Transformation Center
Movement for Freedom
Our House

Stakeholders in the EU:
Belarus Watch (Lithuania)
Belarusian Human Rights House in exile in Vilnius (Lithuania)
Office for Democratic Belarus (Belgium)
Stefan Batory Foundation (Poland)
Third Way (Estonia)
Wolna Białoruś (Poland)

Belarus Watch Press Release